Global operation against illicit medicines completed
A global medicine operation results in 156 arrests and shutdown of more than 2,400 websites.
The Danish Health and Medicines Authority, the Danish customs and tax authorities (SKAT) and the Danish Police participated in the recent Operation PANGEA VIII – a global operation combating illegal online sale of medicines and making consumers aware of the risks associated with buying medicines online.
The illicit online sale of medicines often crosses geographic borders and may involve organised crime networks. The operation, the eighth of its kind, focused on three main components of illicit online sale of medicines: the website, payment options and the dispatched parcel.
Worldwide, the operation resulted in 156 arrests, inspection of more than 149,600 packages and seizure of over 20 million units containing potentially life-threatening medicines worth an estimated USD 81 million.
More than 2,400 websites were taken offline or had their payment facilities removed.
In Denmark, focus was on parcels containing medicines from third countries and analyses of products suspected to contain undeclared active substances. A total of 771 packages were inspected, and 465 packages containing medicines were seized for further examination.
Moreover, 15 websites were reported to INTERPOL for suspected illegal sale of medicines.
Consumers should be careful when they buy medicines online
Consumers are allowed to buy medicines for personal use in an EU or EEA country. However, it can be difficult to find out whether an online shop is authorised to sell medicines and whether the medicine is approved by the authorities.
In addition to the health-related risks, consumers are advised to watch out for identity theft, credit card fraud and computer viruses if they buy medicines at online shops that are not authorised to sell medicine.
About Operation PANGEA VIII
Operation PANGEA VIII, the largest-ever Internet-based operation, took place from 9 June to 16 June 2015 with the participation of regulatory authorities, police and customs authorities. A total of 236 agencies from 115 countries took part in the operation, supported by companies from the electronic payment (VISA and MasterCard), internet and transportation industries.
The operation was coordinated by INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Permanent Forum of International Pharmaceutical Crime (PFIPC), the Heads of Medicines Agencies Working Group of Enforcement Officers (HMA WGEO), the pharmaceutical industry as well as electronic payment system providers.